Northwestern Events Calendar


Lecture 3: Professor Annabella Pitkin, "Aim Your Dharma Practice at a Beggar's Life: Memory, Renunciation, and Longing in the Life of a Modern Himalayan Buddhist Master.”

When: Friday, January 13, 2023
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Joshua Shelton  

Group: The Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

Category: Academic


Devotion plays a central role in Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist accounts of guru-disciple relationship, part of an ideal of indivisible connection between gurus and disciples. This theme of devotional connection intersects in complex ways with another influential Buddhist ideal, that of renunciation. Narratives of renunciation often highlight dynamics of departure and separation, absence and concealment, in ways that can appear in tension with the devotional ideal. Yet separation from the guru can also affectively energize practices of guru-devotion through generating longing, in ways that Tibetan and Himalayan commentators assert as soteriologically indispensable.

This talk focuses on episodes from stories about the life of the twentieth century Himalayan Buddhist renunciant Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen (1895-1977) that highlight his own intensive practices of renunciation, and the impact of his renunciation on his close disciples, both women and men. Pitkin explores implications of Khunu Lama’s renunciation for the ways that his life is now remembered.

Annabella Pitkin is an Associate Professor of Buddhism and East Asian Religions in the Religious Studies Department at Lehigh University.

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